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Tienen (Municipality, Province of Flemish Brabant, Belgium)


Last modified: 2010-01-30 by ivan sache
Keywords: tienen | tirlemont |
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[Flag of Tienen]

Municipal flag of Tienen - Image by Filip van Laenen, 3 November 2001

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Presentation of Tienen

The municipality of Tienen (in French, Tirlemont; 32,083 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 7,177 ha) is the capital of the region of Hageland. The municipality of Tienen is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Tienen (including Bost and Oorbeek since 1970), Goetsenhoven, Hakendover, Kumtich (including Vissenaken since 1970), Oplinter and Sint-Margriete-Houtem.

Tienen originally developed around the St. Martin chapel, later replaced by the St. Martin church, the oldest parish church in the town. The church was the private chapel of the van Avendoren family. A second settlement developed eastwards, around the easier to defend St. Germanus Hill. Some historians say that the St. Germanus church was built in the 9th century. According to a 12th-century copy of a chart dated 20 April 872, King of Francia occidentalis Charles the Bald transferred the "villa thuinas" to the famous abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Paris). Unfortunately, this statement is blurred in the original of the chart. The Vita of St. Amalberga, dated from the 12th century, says that the saint, running away from Charles Martel in the 8th century, came to a place located on the river Gete and named Tienas.

In the earlier Middle Ages, Tienen belonged to the County of Bruningerode, limited by the rivers Dijle and Grote Gete and part of the Principality of Liège since 987, following a transfer by Emperor Otto III to Prince-Bishop Notger. In their attempt to control the trade road Bruges-Cologne, the powerful Counts of Leuven had their eyes on Bruningerode; Count of Leuven Lambert I won in Hoegaarden in 1013 a significant battle over Prince-Bishop Balderic II, after which Thuinas was incorporated into the County of Leuven. Due to its strategic position against Liège, Tienen was granted municipal rights and the right to build fortifications, the first city wall being completed around 1014. Around 1100, the Counts of Leuven overtook the Counties of Brussels and Grez, the domain of Orthen (today,'s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands) and the surroundings of the abbeys of Nivelles and Gembloux, all of these possessions forming the heart of the subsequent Duchy of Brabant. Around 1106, Count Godfrey I (1095-1139) was also Count of Lower-Lotharingia and Markgrave of Antwerp; he and his successors often stayed in Tienen and confirmed the privileges of the town. In 1168, Count Godfrey III (1142-1190) granted a new chart to the town, which is the oldest written chart kept in Brabant. Duke Henry I (1190-1235) used Tienen as a bridgehead for the westward spread of the duchy. A chart dated 24 February 1291 confirms that the town was tax-free, had free markets and its own system of weights and measures.

The wealth of Tienen significantly influenced the political and legal development of Brabant. In the 14th century, seven (a sacred number) towns were granted the title of hoofstad (main towns): Leuven, Brussels, Antwerp, 's-Hertogenbosch, Tienen, Nivelles and Zoutleeuw. Duke John II granted the first "national" chart, known as the Chart of Kortenberg; a companion grant, dated 27 September 1312, set up the States of Brabant, which included a representative from Tienen. In order to secure the loyalty of the Brabantian towns to her, Countess Joanna of Brabant edicted on 3 January 1356 the famous "Chart of the Joyous Entry", a kind of new "Brabantian Constitution"; the privileges granted to Tienen were even increased by a new local chart signed on 17 December 1358. Still located on the border with Liè:ge, the town was under permanent threat. In 1489, Albert of Saxony seized the town on behalf of Emperor Maximilian of Austria, following the rebellion of the Brabantian towns against the Habsburg rule. The fall of Tienen demoralized the other towns, so that Brussels and Leuven quickly surrendered. Tienen was damaged again, in 1507, during the revolt of Gelderland against the Habsburgs. Margaret of Austria, appointed Governor of the Low Countries by Emperor Charles V, was able to settle peace with Liège and Gelderland, which caused decades of calm in Tienen in the first half of the 16th century.

In October 1568, William of Orange marched against Tienen, in one of the first episodes of the Eighty Years' War. Repelled by the militia of Tienen and the Spanish garrison of the fortress, William besieged again the town in 1572 and seized it for a short period, being expelled by the Spaniards in December of the same year. The same scenario occurred again several times until the end of the 16th century, which caused the ruin of the town and of its neighborhood. Tienen was damaged several times more in the 17th-18th centuries.
In 1789, Tienen was a main center of the uprising known as the Brabantian Revolution. The brewer Jan Windelinckxx set up and led a "Patriotic Volunteers' Corps" that ruled the town for one year. After the reestablishment of the Austrian rule, the repression of the rebellion was quite strong. In 1793, the French seized Tienen and used a former convent as an ammunition depot, which blew up on 10 March 1793, killing c. 100 and causing huge damages to the convent and the neighbouring buildings. The "miraculous liberation" of the town by the Austrians was warmly celebrated, with the set up of a silver ex-voto in the St. Germanus church. However, the French came back on 19 July 1794, following the battle of Fleurus and the withdrawal of the Austrian armies from the Low Countries. On 3 May 1815, Duke of Wellington and General Field Marshal Blücher met in the Tinne Schotel inn, located on the market square of Tienen, and set up here the plan for the battle of Waterloo.
Volunteers from Tienen significantly contributed to the 1830 Independence War; they fought in the Warande Park in Brussels and on the bridge of Walem, in the Province of Antwerp. Fightings took place also in Tienen in September 1830 and August 1831.

Victor Beauduin (1845-1904), a Doctor in Law, founded a sugar house in his birth village, Rosoux, located in the Province of Liège. In 1874, he became the co-owner of the Société en nom collectif Vinckenbosch et Cie, together with Louis-Joseph-Henri Vinckenbosch; in 1887, Beauduin became the sole director of the newly incorporated NV Tiense Suikerraffinaderijen / Raffinerie Tirlemontoise (RT). Appointed Mayor of Tienen by Royal Decree in 1892, Beauduin modernized the town; he served as a Representative of the dsitrict of Leuven in the Chamber from 1900 to 1904.
Production of sugar in the Tienen factory started with ten sacks of sugar per day; in 1880, 1,000 t of sugar beets were processed every day. Technical progress and investment increased the tonnage to 7,000 t in 1894. Sugar production decreased but never stopped during the First World War. In 1931, the board of RT was among the promoters of the Chadbourne plan, the first international agreement on sugar production. However, the economic situation of the company was not too good because of sugar overproduction in the industrialized countries. The market remained unstable after the Second World War. In 1968, the board of RT was, once again, among the promoters of the European regulation of sugar prouction. The German group Südzucker AG, the biggest sugar producer in Europe, is the fully owner of RT since 1989.


Ivan Sache, 3 December 2007

Municipal flag of Tienen

The municipal flag of Tienen is horizontally divided blue-white-blue.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02a], the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 26 February 1981, confirmed by Royal Decree on 16 September 1981 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 6 October 1981 and, again, on 4 January 1995.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms.

According to Servais [svm55a], the arms of Tienen, "Azure a fess argent", were granted by (Dutch) Royal Decree in 1818 and confirmed by (Belgian) Royal Decree on 15 January 1841.
The oldest known seal of the town, dated 1229, shows the Paschal Lamb wearing a collar with a small shield with a bar, allegedly the arms granted to the town by Duke John in the 13th century. A seal dated 1398 has the same design. In the late 14th century, the greater seals show two lambs supporting the shield of arms and holding golden spears flying the town's banner of arms, a design which was reused in 1818 as the municipal arms. During the Napoleonic rule, the arms of Tienen, granted by Imperial Decree on 25 March 1813, showed only the shield with a blue canton charged with the letter "N" (for Napoléon) surmonted by a star (symbolizing a second rank town), all or. These arms are still shown in the four corners of the ceiling of the Mayor's office in the town hall. The modern rendition of the arms of Tienen is shown on the municipal website, as well as the Napoleonic arms.

The emblem of the sugar company RT is made of a white "T" on a blue background, most probably recalling the traditional colours of Tienen.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 18 March 2009